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Shark Mitigation Strategy

The Western Australian Government is working with its partners to protect our beach-going lifestyle. It’s important that the surfers, swimmers and divers who love to use our amazing coastline can continue to do so, while understanding the facts about sharks and the hazards they present.

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Western Australian Government

Western Australian Government

06 November 2013

The safety of water users is a priority for the Western Australian Government. 

While the risk of a shark attack is low, the State Government has implemented one of the strongest, evidence-based shark mitigation programs in the world, so that West Australians can continue to enjoy the beach and ocean with confidence.

Our shark mitigation strategy offers a multi-faceted approach with a range of tools and actions to help keep ocean users and our coastal communities as safe as possible. 

Safeguarding the community

Enjoy the beach and ocean with confidence 

  • Beach and aerial surveillance. $3.4 million funding program to Surf Life Saving WA to provide: 
    • Helicopter and beach patrols over metropolitan and South West beaches. 
    • Jet skis and event support to assist evacuations when a shark is sighted. 
    • Drone patrols to monitor beaches and support events.
  • Personal shark deterrents for surfers and divers. $700,000 funding allocation for a world-first shark deterrent rebate for independently verified personal deterrent devices.
  • Additional beach enclosures. Five beach enclosures are currently in place at Old Dunsborough, Busselton, Middleton Beach (Albany), Sorrento Beach and Quinns Beach. Funding has also been offered to the City of Mandurah to install a beach enclosure at Falcon Beach. 
  • Surfing WA partnership. A shark mitigation partnership with Surfing WA provides funding for jet skis and drones for event patrols, as well as free first-aid training that is tailored specifically for surfers. 

Rapid and effective response

Operational responses that are quick and effective 

  • Shark Response Unit. A specialised Shark Response Unit (SRU) has been developed within the State Government to respond to shark incidents and work with other first responders to improve warning notifications and responses, so they are continually improved. 
  • Beach Emergency Number (BEN) signs. BEN signs are being installed at key coastal locations across the State to improve response times to any emergency incidents. 
  • Legislative ban on shark cage diving for tourism and other activities which may change the behaviour of sharks. 
  • Whale carcass management. Collaboration across government departments and land managers to tow carcasses that are adrift, when conditions are suitable, and a program to trial additional towing options. Where possible, small whale carcasses will be towed, when removal by land is not practical. 

Science and research

Improving our understanding of white shark movements and behaviour in WA waters 

  • Extended shark monitoring network. Our world-class shark monitoring network provides real-time alerts of tagged sharks when they swim within 400-500 metres of a satellite-linked receiver. The network has been extended to the Capes and Esperance. 
  • Shark tagging. Increased shark tagging to make the most of our shark monitoring network as a public safety and notification tool. 
  • Independent review panel. An independent panel will assess and publicly advise on shark mitigation proposals, including new technologies, research gaps and opportunities. 
  • Scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial. A 15-month non-lethal trial of SMART drumlines, based in Gracetown, will evaluate the effectiveness of non-lethal drumline technology in WA. The 15-month trial will cost approximately $3.84 million.
  • Evidence based approach.
    • A seven-year shark monitoring research program on movements of white sharks off the Western Australian coast. 
    • $1.9 million spent on innovative applied research projects overseen by the Chief Scientist, and reported publicly. 
    • Correlation study between environmental factors and shark bites to inform our safety advice. 
    • A study of white shark population numbers in WA. 

Sharing information

Delivering accurate and consistent real-time information to water users on shark mitigation 

  • SharkSmart website provides the latest research, and safety information relating to sharks and includes a real-time shark activity map highlighting the latest sightings and tagged shark detections. 
  • A new SharkSmart app is under development so water users can easily check for the latest shark information at their local beach. 
  • Integrated shark notification and response system provides ‘real-time’ information on shark sightings and tagged shark detections to land managers and the public, to assist people in making informed decisions about their water use. 
  • Sea Sense campaign to help improve safety by informing water users on WA’s shark mitigation strategies, and how to use them to enjoy the beach with confidence, as well as how to check for the latest shark information, and how to report sightings. 


Download a copy of Western Australia’s Shark Mitigation Strategy here 


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